When you’re hot you’re hot, and Matthew Waxman is what some would call “en fuego”. He had won a World Poker Tour (“WPT) event in 2011 and followed that up in 2012 with a 2nd place finish for a cool $273,944. 2013, however, is shaping up to be his best year yet as he won his first WSOP bracelet for 305K and had a total of 7 cashes at the WSOP. He added another 84K score in October to bring his total winnings for the year in excess of 500K. Today, at the Poker Room at Seminole Hard Rock, Waxman added another win and over 100K ($123,598) by winning the Seminole Hard Rock “Rock ‘n’ Roll Poker Open” Championship Event. It was no easy task as Waxman had to outlast a final ten that included Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi and Darryl Fish.
The day started with fourteen of the original 482 players till looking to take home the two trophies and first place prize. The seating assignments and chip counts heading into play were as follows:
The always talkative local Nigel Murray would be our first player eliminated when he opened the action to 37K with the blinds at 8K/16K/2K ante and Matt Waxman made the call. The flop was and Waxman led out for 40K and was snap called by Murray. The turn was the and Waxman again bet, this time for 100K, and again was quickly called by Nigel. The river was the and another Waxman bet was made, this time enough to set Murray all in. Nigel made the call and could only look on in disbelief when Waxman turned over for a flopped set that turned into a rivered full house. Murray flashed an ace as he stood up to leave the table.
Michael Landress came in as the shortest stack and it would not be long before he would put those few chips in the middle. He had a good hand to do it with… [… but another short stack, Kevin Spires, would also go all in with a hand that was just one notch better… . The board would run out and Landress would be our 13th place finisher.
The rapid pace of eliminations would continue when Mark Morono would open for 100K, a huge bet with the blinds at 8K/16K, and John Cynn moved all in for close to 500K. Morono wasted no time in calling with pocket Kings and Cynn could only tap the table as he had been somewhat coolered with his pocket Jacks. The flop came keeping Morono in the lead. The on the turn gave John some hope as he picked up an open ended straight draw but the river would give Morono a set and send Cynn home in 12th place.
We would reach our unofficial final table of ten just moments later. Tyler Stafman opened the action for 32K with the blinds at 8K/16K/2K ante and John Piscopo moved all in for 280K from the small blind. Matthew Waxman was in the big blind and looked over at Stafman and asked him “how much you start the day with?” Stafman answered “about 700.” It took a few seconds before Waxman announced he was all in.
Stafman let out a huge exhale, obviously conflicted with his decision. One hand was riffling chips as he glanced repeatedly at Matthew. Tyler leaned back and ran his fingers through his hair and finally decides to let his hand go and shows pocket 10’s. Piscopo turns his hand over – it’s the and he is going to need some help against the that Waxman has. The flop causes Stafman to moan in disgust. It’s the . The turn only adds insult to injury putting out another Ten, this time the . The river is an inconsequential and Piscopo is eliminated. Stafman can only bemoan his decision to make a good fold while Waxman says “I was trying to get him to call with tens. Glad I didn’t do a very good job.”
Our final ten seating assignments and chip counts were as follows:
|Seat 1||Alex Shen||800,000|
|Seat 2||Javier Prado||700,000|
|Seat 3||Kevin Spires||375,000|
|Seat 4||Mark Morono||950,000|
|Seat 5||Darryll Fish||570,000|
|Seat 6||Michael Mizrachi||1,200,000|
|Seat 7||Tyler Stafman||700,000|
|Seat 8||Matthew Waxman||2,500,000|
|Seat 9||John Pizano||1,500,000|
|Seat 10||Tom Gleason||550,000|
Not every poker hand would go Waxman’s way. With the blinds at 10K/20K/3K ante, Waxman opened for a raise to 40K and was called by Javier Prado from the button. The flop came and Waxman led out for 60K and was quickly called by Prado. The turn was the and Matthew bet again, this time for 100K. Again he was called. The river was the and Waxman thought long and hard, for nearly 30 seconds, before grabbing a large stack of blue 25K chips and announcing that he was all in. Javier only had 317K left behind and decided to make the call with the for a flush draw that had turned into a pair of tens on the river. Waxman could only sigh as he turned over . Matthew was still in good shape with 1.8 million while Prado now was just over the one million chip mark.
Play slowed down considerably and it had been nearly an hour with no eliminations but there had been some shifts in chips, most notably Michael Mizrachi sending over half his stack to Alex Shen. Chip counts after that hour were as follows:
|Seat 1||Alex Shen||1,900,000|
|Seat 2||Javier Prado||950,000|
|Seat 3||Kevin Spires||360,000|
|Seat 4||Mark Morono||900,000|
|Seat 5||Darryll Fish||770,000|
|Seat 6||Michael Mizrachi||575,000|
|Seat 7||Tyler Stafman||750,000|
|Seat 8||Matthew Waxman||1,900,000|
|Seat 9||John Pizano||675,000|
|Seat 10||Tom Gleason||850,000|
Michael Mizrachi’s day, unfortunately, never went his way. Alex Shen opened the action for 50K with the blinds at 12K/24K/4K ante and found three callers in Javier Prado, Darryll Fish from the small blind, and Mizrachi joining in from the big blind. The flop came and everyone checked. The turn was the and Darryll Fish led out for 125K. Mizrachi moved all in and it folded back to Fish who made the call with for a turned baby flush. Mizrachi wasn’t drawing dead with his as any Ace or Jack would give him a full house but the river was the and that was the end of the day for one of the most prolific tournament players in poker history.
Players took a brief break to take some photos and the updated chip counts were as follows:
|Seat 1||Alex Shen||1,960,000|
|Seat 2||Javier Prado||940,000|
|Seat 3||Kevin Spires||380,000|
|Seat 4||Mark Morono||600,000|
|Seat 5||Darryll Fish||1,260,000|
|Seat 6||Tyler Stafman||900,000|
|Seat 7||Matthew Waxman||2,000,000|
|Seat 8||John Pizano||560,000|
|Seat 9||Tom Gleason||1,030,000|
With the blinds at 12K/24K/4K ante, John Pizano shoved for more than 20 big blinds and found a taker in Javier Prado. They were racing as Pizano had and Prado . The board would run out to give Pizano a much needed double to just over 1.1 million while Prado slipped to 150K. Prado would triple up a few moments later when he moved all in with and was able to hit an ace to stay alive. We would hit the break with the following chip counts:
|Seat 1||Alex Shen||1,740,000|
|Seat 2||Javier Prado||165,000|
|Seat 3||Kevin Spires||180,000|
|Seat 4||Mark Morono||515,000|
|Seat 5||Darryll Fish||1,285,000|
|Seat 6||Tyler Stafman||685,000|
|Seat 7||Matthew Waxman||2,700,000|
|Seat 8||John Pizano||1,075,000|
|Seat 9||Tom Gleason||1,355,000|
The two short stacks would both find double ups after the break. First it would be Javier Prado when he moved all in for 160K over Matthew Waxman’s 60K opener. Matthew would make the pot odds call with and would have two live cards as Prado held . The board ran out to take Prado just over 400K. It was Kevin Spires turn next and he moved all in for 170K and found a taker in Tyler Stafman out of the big blind. Stafman didn’t like his decision when Spires turned over because he was dominated with his holding of . An Ace on the flop would be more than enough for Kevin who doubled to 400K.
Javier Prado, a 31 year old business owner from Miami, Florida could never recover from the lost race against Pizano and a bit of misfortune would see him heading to the rail. Alex Shen opened for 60K with the blinds at 15K/30K/5K ante and looking down at it was an easy decision for Prado to move all in. Alex made the call with and would surge into the lead when an Ace would hit the flop. “Finally,” said Darryl Fish when the board would keep Alex in the lead, referring to the fact that it had almost been two hours since we had lost a player.
Prado has been playing poker for 13 years and this was by far his biggest tournament success. A self proclaimed family man who told us that family comes first, poker second, Javier plays at The Poker Room at Seminole Hard Rock on a regular basis and loves the facilities here. Congratulations on your best tournament finish ever Javier!
Kevin Spires, a 27 year old professional poker player from West Palm Beach, Florida would be our next player eliminated when he moved all in over the top of Alex Shen’s 60K opener and the hot Shen would make the call with red 10’s and be in great shape against Kevin and his black 7’s. The 10’s would hold and Spires whose previous biggest poker success was some cashes in some online Sunday tournaments would be our 8th place finisher. Kevin’s favorite song is an appropriate one for a poker player and a good one for a final table finisher in the “Rock ‘n’ Roll Poker Open” – “Money” by Pink Floyd. He’ll be taking home quite a bit of money for his 8th place finish.
Updated chip counts after the Spires elimination were as follows:
|Seat 1||Alex Shen||2,200,000|
|Seat 4||Mark Morono||400,000|
|Seat 5||Darryll Fish||1,450,000|
|Seat 6||Tyler Stafman||950,000|
|Seat 7||Matthew Waxman||3,150,000|
|Seat 8||John Pizano||400,000|
|Seat 9||Tom Gleason||750,000|
Tyler Stafman would pick up a big hand in the big blind at the most opportune of times. It was folded to Darryl Fish in the small blind. Fish decided to apply maximum pressure and moved all in but he was quickly called by Tyler when Stafman saw his hand of . Fish was drawing thin with his and when the board ran , Stafman was pumping his fist and stacking chips… 1.25 million total to be precise. Fish was still alive but was now down to 750K.
John Pizano, a 47 year old auto dealer who lives in Longwood, Florida but originally hails from Binghamton, New York has been playing poker for 24 years and his previous biggest tournament success was a 22K score. Pizano was guaranteed to exceed that with just 7 players remaining. He was hoping for more though when he moved his stack of 555K into the 300K pot on a flop with . Unfortunately for him, however, Alex Shen had and the Queen Kicker would end up playing when the turn and river were the . John whose favorite song is November Rain by Guns n Roses told us that his favorite poker player is Daniel Negreanu and the most interesting thing about himself is his three great kids and wife. “I had K-Q and flopped trips against pocket Aces,” he said when asked about the biggest hand that got him to the final table. A little disappointed with 7th, he’s probably not too disappointed to have his biggest tournament cash ever.
A short stacked Mark Morono would double through Tyler Stafman with a little luck when his would hit trip 3’s on the flop to outrun Stafman’s . This took Mark to approximately 550K. Those chips would not last long though when he would move all in over the top of Alex Shen’s opening raise and Shen would make the call with pocket 6’s and just flop quads to take out the 59 year old pool builder from Houston, Texas. Morono held and would have to settle for an impressive payday for his 6th place finish.
With his multiple knockouts of other players, Alex Shen moved into the chip lead over Matthew Waxman. He would lose that chip lead when he would call Waxman’s flop, turn, and river bets on the board and muck when Matthew showed . That hand sent nearly 750K over to Waxman and he regained the chip lead.
Tom Gleason had thus far had a quiet but steady final table, keeping himself in contention with well timed steals and re-raises and never putting himself at risk. After Tyler Stafman opened for 80K with the blinds at 20K/40K/5K ante, he decided to do just that with and moved all in for 600K from the small blind. Stafman made the call with and they would be racing, but only for seconds as a deuce would flop. That hand gave Gleason some breathing room at 1.25 million and knocked Tyler down to the danger zone as he only had 400K remaining.
The players would go on a one hour dinner break with the following chip counts:
|Seat 1||Alex Shen||3,745,000|
|Seat 5||Darryll Fish||435,000|
|Seat 6||Tyler Stafman||335,000|
|Seat 7||Matthew Waxman||3,695,000|
|Seat 9||Tom Gleason||1,430,000|
Tyler Stafman would return from the dinner break and immediately double up at the hands of Matthew Waxman when his would hit an Ace to better Waxman’s .
Darryl Fish, a 27 year old poker professional from “Planet Earth” (and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida), would not have the same luck as Stafman. Darryl, who practices yoga and meditation, has had countless success at the felt and lists his 3rd place finish in a WSOP tournament for $230,000 as his biggest. A regular at the Poker Room at Seminole Hard Rock, Fish would move all in with and be racing against Alex Shen’s pocket 9’s. There wouldn’t be much drama, however, as a 9 would hit the flop. A gutshot straight draw on the turn gave Fish just a sliver of hope but it was not to be as the amiable Fish was eliminated and Shen added another bust out to his plate.
Stafman, in the meantime, continued his surge. Tom Gleason opened for 110K with the blinds at 25K/50K/5K ante and Stafman made the call from the big blind. The flop came and Stafman check called the all in bet from Gleason by saying “let’s do it” while turning over for flopped top pair which was ahead of Gleason’s pocket 5’s. When the pair would hold for Stafman, he would pump his fist again while saying “Yea!” Tyler was up to 925K after the hand and Gleason dropped to 600K.
The 23 year old Gleason, a professional poker player whose previous biggest tournament success had been $24,000, would end up being our next player eliminated when he moved all in over the top of Matthew Waxman’s 100K raise with only to find out Matthew actually had a hand… pocket Kings. The board would run out and Gleason would go over to his rail… including his future wife that he told us “is my pride and joy”… to accept their congratulation. Then he would be off to the cage to collect his biggest tournament cash ever.
The chip counts heading into three handed play were as follows:
|Seat 1||Alex Shen||3,300,000|
|Seat 6||Tyler Stafman||925,000|
|Seat 7||Matthew Waxman||5,300,000|
Alex would chip into that chip lead and even things up when he would take 850K off of Waxman with on a board. Alex would take over the chip lead a few minutes later when him and Tyler Stafman would get it all in on a board with Shen holding for flopped two pair and Stafman holding for a flush draw, middle pair, and gutshot straight draw. Shen would fade all the outs on the river to eliminate yet another player.
This was easily Stafman’s biggest poker success as the 23 year old CPA candidate who graduated from the University of Florida and lives in Weston, Florida had only one small tournament cash prior to today. He was able to crack aces on Day 2 when he hit trip deuces with and never looked back until he was eliminated at the very end.
Heads up play began with Alex Shen holding a slight chip lead but he would lose that in the first hand of heads up play. At that point, the two players agreed to split 1st and 2nd place prize money thus giving the title to Matthew Waxman.
Alex, whose given name is Yuan Yangshen, is a 25 year old poker professional originally hailing from Charlotte, North Carolina but now residing in South Florida. He grew up in Asia and his favorite poker hand is 7-5 suited. This six figure score is by far his biggest live tournament poker success.
Even though he’s won a WPT title and a WSOP bracelet, Matthew Waxman still appreciates taking down a tournament. “Hey, it’s over 100K, there’s nothing trivial about that,” Waxman grinned as he eyed the glass WPT Regional trophy he was going to be taking home. Matthew is 28 years old and has been living in Southern Florida since he was 10 years old. He can be seen regularly at the Poker Room at Seminole Hard Rock and told us that his favorite song is “Ya Hey” by Vampire Weekend. His favorite poker hand? The monstrous 6-7 off. He lists his WPT win as his biggest tournament success.
His reason for deciding to chop at the end was simple. “I played against Eric Baldwin for seven hours at the WSOP event that I won and it was a brutal grind. Alex and I were both deep and I knew it was going to take hours to play heads up.” It’s another great tournament for the ultra-successful Waxman as he closes out a great 2013. Congratulations on the win, Matthew!